It seems these days that Christmas starts just after the last one finishes. But it is now December so we can all be relatively comfortable with talking about Christmas. Of course that makes it a time for celebration with plenty of eating, drinking and the giving of gifts. But can we do all of this without making a huge impact on the environment?
There are so many aspects to Christmas but one thing many of us do is put up a Christmas tree and inevitably the question of whether we should have a real or a fake Christmas tree? Each has it pros and cons from a sustainability perspective.
The advantages of fake trees are that they:
- can be re-used year after year
- are generally less expensive over time
- can be left up for longer.
The disadvantages of fake trees are that they:
- are made of plastics and metals
- are not biodegradable
- end up as waste in landfill before too long
- are often shipped long distances
- need to be stored for the remainder of the year.
The advantages of a real tree are that they:
- are biodegradable
- can be chipped into mulch in the New Year
- help act as a filter to clean the air in the years they take to grow
- smell wonderful.
The disadvantages of a real tree are that they:
- are sometimes grown using pesticides and herbicides
- may be shipped across the country
- produce mess inside your house
- need to be recycled (while they can be mulched, you are likely to have to transport the tree yourself and not all communities can access recycling options.)
So what to choose for a happy medium?
One popular and sustainable option is getting a potted, live Christmas tree. If you keep it properly watered it won’t dry out, shed foliage or become a fire hazard. Depending on the type of tree you chose, it can smell wonderful too. But the best reason is that when you’re done with the tree, you don’t need to arrange for it to be mulched—you can plant it outside. You can plant it in the garden to decorate as an outdoor tree or leave it in its pot to bring inside again for next year.
Some people get very creative and make trees out of all sorts of materials ranging from pallet wood, wire, barbed wire etc. Whatever you choose, make sure it suits your home and lifestyle.